We (well, mainly Barry) invited two graduates from Harvard Graduate School of Design to come to Cornell and speak about engaging their design education in real communities around the world.  They talked about SoCA’s recent projects including a teen center in Lowell, MA, a library installation in Boston’s Chinatown, and a women’s art community center in Capetown, South Africa.  The point behind the lecture?  Use your education to be a social revolutionary and change the world…or part of the world at least.


So after the successful lecture, we had a nice candle-lit dinner at Aladdin’s where we ate gyros, falafels, and fruit + nut salads.  Those 21+ shared a nice bottle of red wine.  It was so pleasant.  Oh, and we also discussed design and activism into the night.

– Jessica

Thanks to everyone who came to the lecture!  For those who couldn’t make it, click here for a short excerpt on and photos of the lecture:

Design for Social Change + Activism
Quilian Riano and DK Osseo-Asare

September 17, 2009
Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

“Over recent years, a small but active micro-generation of Harvard GSD students have worked collaboratively and progressively to re-engage their design education with real communities outside the studio.  Much of this work has emerged from the student group Social Change and Activism (SoCA), a horizontal organization of GSD students committed to proactive social change.

Recent design projects incubated by SoCA include a teen center in Lowell, Massachusetts, a library installation in Boston’s Chinatown, and a community center in Capetown, South Africa.  SoCA also supports design education for Boston-area youth through the Design Initiative for Youth program for 8th-graders and summer Project Link program for high school students.

The work of SoCA is part of the larger project that Quilian Riano has termed ‘critical activism’: a new wave of designers that–while conscious of both modernism’s failed utopian origins and post-war idealism– continue the search for alternative models to architectural practice. Today, students and young designers believe once again that “design can change the world,” contending that participatory design is a tool for shaping not only form, but also interrelated political, social and economic systems and processes. By sharing recent projects by SoCA and other GSD students that leverage design toward social equity, Dk Osseo-Asare and Quilian Riano will offer through ‘Dispatch from GSD’ a primer on how to be a social revolutionary without burning down your design school.”

Open Dialogue, SoCA

DK Osseo-Asare (left) and Quilian Riano (right)

DSC_0008Attentive students + Laura + Lauren

Q + A

Photos courtesy of: Jessica Hsu

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